“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
As you end a letter to a close family member or friend, one who you want to encourage, what would you say? What words would you offer? Paul’s closing words to the church in Corinth in today’s focus text hit the mark with what should be considered important, needed instruction and encouragement for us as Christians. For the Christian life is full of danger and pitfalls. It’s full of temptations and snares. Persecution and the opposition of evil are very present. So, Paul’s words are good for us to hear today. For that which we’re called to do is often a struggle. It’s helpful for another to come alongside and help us to stay on track, to build us up in Christ and encourage us to keep fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).
We are called to watch. Watching is keeping an alert guard against temptation and the evil one. One essential duty of a Christian is to guard his words and actions. Like a man on a journey, a Christian must plan his path carefully, watching for pitfalls and snares. We need to stay the course and be watchful, for when we become lazy, Satan is most likely to strike. Laziness is a battle. Physical laziness for sure, but also importantly, spiritual laziness. Sometimes it creeps in and gets the better of us without us even being aware at first. But this is a battle worth fighting, and fighting well by the grace and work of God. As we’ve recently studied in 1 Thessalonians, watching is also living now in light of the return of our Lord. Watching is being prepared and ready for the darts and attacks of Satan. There is much to be watchful for today, isn’t there? Let’s stay alert!
We are also to stand firm in the faith. We remain at our post. We dig in. We stand and rest on the foundation of our faith. We trust and keep our eyes on Jesus. We stay grounded in His promises in His Word. Standing firm in the faith also entails standing in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel (Philippians 1:27). False teachers came and went in Corinth, doing much damage that Paul needed to address and correct. Many false teachers have risen up today as well. But as we stand firm, they will not shake or lure us off the rock that is Jesus Christ.
How are we to stand firm? With courage and strength. The phrase “be brave” in verse 13 is translated “act like men” in other translations. Sadly, when we look at many men today, they don’t espouse or act with the bravery that Paul speaks of. Rather, many are effeminate, cowardly, fearful and weak. Christian men need to rise up and shake off the mental, emotional, and spiritual shackles that the world, the flesh, and the devil try to place on them. They need to act like men, growing in their knowledge and practice of godly courage and strength- mentally, emotionally, and spiritually- in their own lives, with their families, and in the church. We need to be prepared to stand and defend, especially in the midst of adversity. By God’s grace, all Christians need to have courage and strength as we engage and endure in this battle.
We are to love well. In all we do, let it be done in love. We are to think, act, and speak through a lens of love- whether we’re encouraging, comforting, confronting, defending, etc.. All we do should be done in love. This is often difficult and hard to carry out in all areas of our lives. However, this is what we must strive for and work on every day, by the grace of God. We are brought back to God’s standard, especially when we fall and fail. Let all that you do be done with love. Jesus has shown us the perfect, supreme example of love- His sacrificial love for us. Christian love is an expression of our gratitude for Christ because He laid down His life for us. Christian love is also selfless and enduring (John 15:13). If we truly have the love of Christ in us, we must have dedication to sacrificial love. May such love be evident in our lives!
Stand firm and love well today, beloved. May these verses build you up and encourage you!